Sea Ice Group at the Geophysical Institute logo1
logo 3

Utqiagvik (Barrow) Sea Ice Radar

Current Radar Image

BRW sea ice radar latest

Current Animation (last 24hrs)

In the radar imagery above, we have color-coded targets depending on recent changes or motion. Ice that is in motion will appear red, while ice that has recently come to rest will be yellow or blue.Sometimes the ice appears to "flicker" without moving and this will also lead to a change in color. Shorefast ice will often flicker before it detaches, so the color changes may indicate changes in the stability and safety of the ice.

The image above was acquired by an 25 kW X-band marine radar mounted on top of the 4-storey bank building in downtown Utqiaġvik. Images are updated every 4 minutes. The video shows the last 24 hours of data and is updated every hour.

Past imagery and animations can be found in our google drive archive here

Sea ice can be detected at ranges of up to about 10km (6 miles). Radar signals are reflected by rough ice, which appears as bright areas in these images. Sea ice ridges appear as lines of bright reflections. Buildings, fences and cars on land also return strong signals. Dark regions may indicate open water, but they might also indicate smooth ice or shadow zones behind large features. Atmospheric features, such as fog or rain, can occasionally be seen in the radar imagery as well. Every so often, even birds or caribou are picked up by the radar.

The Utqiaġvik Sea Ice Radar is supported as part of the Integrated System for Operations in Polar Sea (ISOPS) through a collaborative project between UAF and the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (US Department of the Army BAA W912HZ-20-BAA-01).

We are also grateful for telecommunication support provided by the Arctic Slope Telephone Association Cooperative (ASTAC) and to the Arctic Slope Regional Cooperation (ASRC) for use of the bank building in Utqiaġvik.